Weekly Current Affairs

Welcome to the Endeavor Editors’ Weekly Current Affairs Choicest Blog series. Get a weekly roundup – of news from business, economy, markets, policy, and more. A quick capsule format news summary and update to keep you abreast with all the latest current affairs.

1) International News and Global Economy

G20 Summit ends in Bengaluru: Climate financing, strengthening development banks among top agendas discussed

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Saturday said that climate financing and strengthening development banks to help poorer nations were among the top agendas discussed in the first Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors meeting in Bengaluru. “We have voiced the key concerns of the developing countries,” she said. She further informed that participating ministers and governors reiterated the need for structural policies to promote macro stability and maintain growth momentum. As per Sitharaman, PM Modi has urged the participants to bring back stability and growth to the global economy. The G20 Chair thus confirmed a CNBC-TV18 newsbreak where it was reported that the climate crisis, global stress in the form of the war in Ukraine, inflation and decoding the crypto market were among the top agendas.

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China refuses to condemn Russia’s Ukraine invasion during G20 deadlock

Finance ministers of the world’s largest economies have failed to agree on a closing statement following a summit in India, after China refused to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Beijing declined to accept parts of a G20 statement that deplored Russia’s aggression “in the strongest terms.” Moscow said “anti-Russian” Western countries had “destabilised” the G20. It comes after China this week published a plan to end the conflict that was viewed by some as pro-Russian. India, which hosted this week’s G20 talks in the southern city of Bengaluru, issued a wide-ranging “chair’s summary” from the meeting, noting there were “different assessments of the situation” in Ukraine and on sanctions imposed on Russia.

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India resisting anti-Russia declaration? G20 members divided over reference to Ukraine war

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Russia halts pipeline oil supplies to Poland, PKN Orlen says

Russia has halted supplies of oil to Poland via the Druzhba pipeline, the chief executive of Polish refiner PKN Orlen said on Saturday, adding that the company would tap alternative sources to plug the gap. The halt in supplies via the pipeline – which has been exempted from EU sanctions imposed on Russia following its full-scale invasion of Ukraine – came a day after Poland delivered its first Leopard tanks to Ukraine. “We’re effectively securing supplies. Russia has halted supplies to Poland, for which we are prepared. Only 10% of crude oil has been coming from Russia, and we will replace it with oil from other sources,” PKN Orlen Chief Executive Daniel Obajtek wrote on Twitter. The company said it could fully supply its refineries via sea and that the halt in pipeline supplies would not impact deliveries of gasoline and diesel to clients.

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Nepal government in disarray over Prime Minister’s choice of President

Ram Chandra Paudel is set to become Nepal’s next President after he was backed by eight political parties on February 25 but the development may bring down the fragile two-month-old government of Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda,’ which could plunge the Himalayan nation once again into political turmoil. Principal opposition party Nepali Congress’ senior leader Mr. Paudel was endorsed by eight political parties, including the CPN-Maoist Centre of Prime Minister Prachanda, who sidelined his coalition partner K.P. Sharma Oli’s nominee to support his candidacy. Mr. Paudel will vie against CPN-UML’s Subas Nembang in the March 9 Presidential election, which may change the power equation in the country. The tenure of the current president, Bidya Devi Bhandari, will end on March 12. The Presidential election has put a serious question mark on the future of the seven-party ruling alliance.

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2) India

“Pakistan is not Sri Lanka for India…” Jaishankar on country’s approach towards crisis-hit neighbour

EAM Jaishankar cleared India’s stance as Pakistan remains gripped in an economic crisis. In conversation with ANI Editor Smita Prakash, EAM explained how India plans to deal with neighbours. Jaishankar also highlighted strained relations between India-Pakistan, which hasn’t improved. EAM also emphasized that India’s approach towards Pak couldn’t be the same as of Sri Lanka.

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Ex-Mastercard CEO Ajay Banga Nominated By US President To Lead World Bank

US President Joe Biden said Thursday that Washington is nominating former Mastercard Chief Executive Ajay Banga to lead the World Bank, after its current chief David Malpass announced plans to step down early. The development lender has just started accepting candidate nominations in a process set to run until March 29, with the bank saying that women candidates would be “strongly” encouraged. The president of the World Bank is typically American, while the leader of the International Monetary Fund is customarily European.

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3) Economy

FM Nirmala Sitharaman & US Treasury’s Yellen discuss debt, crypto

Indian Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen discussed strengthening multilateral development banks, global debt vulnerabilities and crypto assets on the sidelines of the G20 finance chiefs meeting on Thursday, the finance ministry said. Yellen is expected to brief reporters later in the day and take part in a meeting of Group of Seven (G7) nations on the sidelines of the G20 meet. India is hosting the first major G20 event under its year-long presidency at the summer retreat of Nandi Hills near tech hub Bengaluru.

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Indian economy expected to contribute more than 15% of global growth: IMF MD

The emerging markets and developing economies are expected to account for around 80 per cent of the global growth this year and the next. Of this, India alone is expected to contribute over 15 per cent, said the International Monetary Fund’s Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva on Wednesday. Terming India’s strong economic performance a ‘bright spot’, Georgieva said that beyond being the global growth engine, India is uniquely positioned to bring countries together. The IMF said that while this will be another challenging year, it could represent a turning point with inflation declining and growth bottoming out.

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Services exports to cross $300 billion this fiscal; $1 trillion achievable by 2030: SEPC

Services exports are recording a healthy growth rate, and going by this trend, the outbound shipments will cross USD 300 billion in 2022-23, and tapping global opportunities would help achieve USD one trillion target by 2030, SEPC said on Sunday. Services Export Promotion Council (SEPC) Director General Abhay Sinha said support measures in the forthcoming foreign trade policy (FTP) would help further boost the exports. Performance of sectors including IT, ITeS, tourism and healthcare is helping the exports register significant growth rates, he said. Going by the current growth rate, the services exports will cross USD 300 billion this fiscal,” Sinha said. According to the data of the commerce ministry, the estimated value of services export in April-January 2022-23 is USD 272 billion as compared to USD 206.28 billion in the year-ago period. In 2021-22, these exports touched an all-time high of USD 254 billion.

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4) Markets, Banking, and Finance

No news

5) Business

Nokia’s iconic logo gets a makeover to reflect bold new direction

Nokia on Sunday announced its plans to revamp its brand identity for the first time in almost six decades, including a new logo, as part of its push for aggressive growth in the telecom equipment industry. While Nokia still aims to grow its service provider business, where it sells equipment to telecom companies, its main focus is now to sell gear to other businesses. Major technology firms have been partnering with telecom gear makers such as Nokia to sell private 5G networks and gears for automated factories to customers, mostly in the manufacturing sector.

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India reiterates dissent to Hindustan Zinc buyout of Vedanta’s global zinc assets

In confirmation of a CNBC-TV18 newsbreak, the government has reiterated its dissent in Hindustan Zinc’s proposed acquisition of Vedanta’s global Zinc assets. The government said that it would explore legal options in matters of the said deal and has asked Hindustan Zinc to explore other cashless methods for acquisition of these assets. The dissent has been recorded by directors nominated for appointment by the government, namely Farida Naik, Veena Kumari Dermal and Nirupama Kotru. The deal entails an immediate cash consideration of $2.4 billion to Vedanta Limited for sale of THL Zinc, Mauritius, with assets in Namibia and South Africa, with the balance $0.58 billion being paid later.

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6) Technology

Generative AI like ChatGPT will be a co-worker, will not replace jobs: TCS

Indian multinational information technology services and consulting company Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) has said that generative artificial intelligence platforms like ChatGPT will create an “AI co-worker” and will not affect existing jobs. Milind Lakkad, the chief human resources officer (CHRO) of the country’s largest IT services firm that employs over 6 lakh people, said such AI tools would help improve productivity, but it is difficult for these AI tools to change the business models for companies. The introduction of platforms like ChatGPT has led to an increase in concerns about whether a trained human is needed at all to deliver the work which a technology company offers to clients.

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India proposes joint IMF-FSB paper on cryptos

To complement the ongoing dialogue on the need for a policy framework for cryptos, India has proposed a joint technical paper by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Financial Stability Board (FSB) which would synthesise the macroeconomic and regulatory perspectives of crypto-assets for the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors (FMCBG) meeting in October. The Indian G20 Presidency in 2023 wants to broaden the G20 discussion on crypto assets beyond financial integrity concerns and capture the macroeconomic implications and widespread crypto adoption in the economy. This will require a data-based and informed approach to the global challenges and opportunities of crypto assets, allowing G20 members to shape a coordinated and comprehensive policy response. The IMF managing director Kristalina Georgieva on Saturday said banning private cryptos should be an option if regulations fail.

For details, visit here.

7) Politics

CBI arrests Deputy CM Manish Sisodia – What is the Delhi excise policy ‘scam’?

As the Delta wave of the COVID-19 wrought havoc in the national capital, the Arvind Kejriwal-led Delhi government had passed a new excise policy. The initiative was short lived, lasting approximately a year and being bombarded by allegations of bribery and fraud. According to an Enforcement Directorate chargesheet, the Delhi Excise Policy (2021-22) was created by the top leaders of the Aam Aadmi Party to continuously generate and channel illegal funds to themselves. In July 2022, Delhi Lieutenant Governor VK Saxena recommended a CBI probe into the alleged flouting of rules and procedural flaws when it came to the implementation of the policy. Following this, the ED and CBI had registered cases alleging that irregularities were committed while modifying the Excise Policy.

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Congress mulls changes in its constitution: From tougher rules for top post aspirants to CWC expansion

From changing the requirement to file nomination for the post of Congress president and increasing the strength of the (CWC) to revising the composition of the party’s Parliamentary Board to dropping the requirement of party members giving an undertaking that they must abstain from “alcoholic drinks,” the Opposition party is mulling over a raft of proposed amendments to its constitution. These proposed changes, a list of which The Indian Express has accessed, are under discussion at the ongoing 85th plenary session of the All India Congress Committee (AICC) in Raipur. Among the two proposed amendments that may significantly affect future challenges to the leadership is one that will make it mandatory for aspirants to the post of party president to get 100 Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) delegates to propose their names. The current requirement is ten delegates.

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‘Very serious’: Central security agencies on Amritpal Singh’s activities

Activities of “Waris Punjab De” head Amritpal Singh have been flagged as “very serious” development by the central security agencies. The siege of a police station in Ajnala to free his aide, Lovepreet Singh Toofan, is just one of the many issues. A probe is underway to check who is funding him, and in what manner. “The route of funding is being ascertained,” said a source, adding that Amritpal had been getting ideological support from radical elements in the UK and Canada, besides small pockets in Europe. A plethora of automatic weapons, including AK-47 assault rifles, carried by Amritpal’s supporters are being studied for their origin. Even his social media campaigns and how his followers operate are being looked at.

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8) Sports

ICC Women’s T20 World Cup 2023: Australia clinch trophy for sixth time

Australia won the Women’s T20 World Cup for the sixth time when they beat South Africa by 19 runs in the final at Newlands on Sunday. Opening batter Beth Mooney anchored the Australian innings, scoring an unbeaten 74 in a total of 156 for six. South Africa were never up with the required run rate and were restricted to 137 for six despite opener Laura Wolvaardt hitting 61 off 48 balls.

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9) Opinion

How China’s global debt cheque is bouncing, almost 150 borrower nations, BRI projects in trouble

Looming debts, doomed infrastructure projects — developing countries are in crises, unable to repay debts taken for China’s Belt & Road Initiative. ThePrint Editor-in-Chief Shekhar Gupta unpacks what has come of Xi Jinping’s ‘over-ambitious’ projects.

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Nearly Two-Thirds Of Indian CEOs Expect Positive Global Economic Outlook In Next 3-5 Years: Report

Nearly two-thirds of Indian companies’ CEOs expect a steady or positive global economic outlook over the next three to five years, despite present challenges and sombre macroeconomic projections for 2023, according to a research report released on Thursday. The research by strategy and management consulting firm Arthur D Little also highlighted that the CEOs who are keen on growth despite the crisis as half (of them) believe they will expand into new regions, while 30 per cent anticipate growing faster than the overall market. As many as 250 CEOs of businesses with annual sales of at least $1 billion were interviewed for the firm’s 2023 CEO Insights research, of which 33 per cent of the Indian CEOs surveyed had an optimistic view about the economic outlook over the next 3-5 years, quite above the global average of 22 per cent, as per the report. These include 21 CEOs of the Indian companies, according to the research organisation.

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Kamath says digital economy can contribute 25% GDP by FY29

Noted banker KV Kamath, who now chairs the National Bank for Financing Infrastructure and Development (NaBFID), expects the digital sector to contribute a quarter of the incremental GDP by the time the economy becomes a USD 7 trillion giant by FY29. Currently, the contribution of the digital economy is a low 4 per cent, whereas it is as much as 40 per cent in China. The government and planners see the economy becoming the third largest in the world by FY29, overtaking Japan, with a GDP of USD 7 trillion from the present USD 3.3 trillion. The digital economy — the digital infrastructure, e-commerce and other digital payments and services segments–can be the country’s biggest growth-driver and can contribute as much as 25 per cent of the incremental GDP by the time India becomes a USD 7-trillion economy by FY29. Currently, the share is a low  4 per cent, Kamath told PTI in an interaction over the weekend.

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10) Weekly special

Kirthiga Reddy is building Virtualness to simplify Web3 for creators and brands

In a space where the near-absence of female founders is conspicuous, Kirthiga Reddy, Co-founder and CEO of Virtualness, stands out with her mobile-first platform that makes it easy for creators and brands to capture the value-creation opportunity that blockchain and Web3 present and scale business. In a conversation with Shradha Sharma, Founder and CEO, YourStory, Kirthiga shares the gameplan for her Web3 venture, along with her journey—the ambitious and determined schoolgirl from Aurangabad who made it to leadership roles in companies such as Meta and SoftBank.

For details, visit here.

With that, we come to the end of our Weekly Current Affairs February 2023 -Week 4. We hope you have liked it. Write your feedback in the comments below, and let us know if there is anything else you would like us to cover.

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